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female influence. And Solomon sins on an imperial scale; strange women,' from the daughter of Pharaoh downward, fill the kingdom with external and idolatrous rites. Thus at the close of the reign the antagonistic elements reappear; from the commencement, when Nathan assisted to secure the inheritance to Solomon against the usurpation of Adonijah, there is no mention of prophets until Ahijah is seen giving the sanction of the theocracy to the rebel Jeroboam.
We are thus brought to the ninth book, which deals with the Schism and the Kingdoms of Judah and Israel side by side. This complex and difficult book has in external appearance a mechanical arrangement: successive sections keep the history of Judah and Israel as nearly parallel as the nature of the case permits. But the spirit of the narrative is quite different from what this might suggest. The whole is told from the prophetic point of view; and accordingly it is the kingdom of Israel which has the prominence, as the main theatre of the contest between Jehovah and the false worship of other gods. The history of Judah is here subordinate, and is treated as it appears from the point of view of the northern kingdom.
Three periods may be distinguished in the history of the double kingdom. The first is occupied with the house of Jeroboam, and the house of Baasha which followed in the second generation. At first, as already noted, prophecy is on the side of the revolt. But Jeroboam is scarcely secure on his throne before he establishes the worship of the calves, to intercept the pilgrimages to Jerusalem; he at once becomes the chief aim of prophetic denunciation,the Jeroboam the son of Nebat who taught Israel to sin. The inauguration of his idolatrous worship is encountered by the nameless prophet from Judah, who afflicts the king, rends the altar, and with prophetic insight points through the future generations to the grand reformation of Josiah. And Ahijah himself lives long enough to denounce to the wife of Jeroboam the immediate death of her son, and the further doom of her seed until the kingdom shall be rent from them.
After various usurpations we reach the central period of the northern kingdom in the house of Omri. The founder of the dynasty builds Samaria, the splendid capital of the north. In the next generation we have Ahab, and his more famous queen, Jezebel of Tyre. Here it is no case of derelictions in the worship of Jehovah; the religion of Baal is fully established throughout the land, and the worshippers of Israel's God have to be hidden in caves and dens. The crisis brings out the full strength of the prophetic order in the splendid names of Elijah and Elisha. The two are inseparable; not only is Elisha “he that poured water on the hands of Elijah,” and obtained a double portion of his spirit, but the commission actually given to the older prophet at the cave of Horeb is in the main carried out by his successor. Another feature of this period must be borne in mind: there is at this point a
rapprochement between Israel and Judah. Jehoshaphat is the king of Judah who seeks to unite the service of Jehovah with the friendship of Ahab, until the ill-fated alliance meets its doom in the battle of Ramoth-gilead. And his son weds a bride of the house of Omri, — the notorious Athaliah, who as queen-mother to Ahaziah establishes the worship of Baal for a time in Jerusalem itself. This whole phase of history culminates in the famous conspiracy of Jehu, who under commission from Elisha extirpates the family of Ahab and Jezebel and the worship of Baal, and as a detail in the process brings death to the allied king of Judah. Throughout this period of the house of Omri biblical history reaches its most vivid picturing. The leading figures stand out with individual distinctness : Ahab, luxury-loving, with a heart never entirely weaned from the old worship, and reaching by a tardy repentance the
mercy of not seeing the worst with his own eyes; Jezebel, grim and whole-hearted in her contest on behalf of Baal ; Jehoshaphat, the courtly trimmer; Jehu, the “furious driver,' who drives his commission of Divine vengeance through all bounds of fraud and violence; while as representatives of the spiritual forces in antagonism with these, Elijah and Elisha stand out as the giants of prophetic history.
The third period in the history of the northern kingdom is occupied with the house of Jehu, and the usurping kings that followed. Here the two kingdoms fall away from
their temporary rapprochement, and their history moves in different directions. In Judah, Athaliah and her worship of Baal are overthrown by the revolution which puts on the throne the youthful Joash, and the high priest Jehoiada is able to make a covenant between the LORD and the king and the people, that they should be the LORD'S people. The lukewarmness of successors, even the personal idolatry of Ahaz, do not seem seriously to infect the people of the southern kingdom. On the other hand, the reigns of Jehu and his successors seem so many stages in the fall of Israel. Under Jehu himself “ the Lord began to cut Israel short," and the east of Jordan is lost to the Syrian foe. The Syrian oppression continues during the next reign :
But the LORD was gracious unto them, and had compassion on them, and had respect unto them, because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not destroy them,
neither cast he them from his presence as yet. Under Jehoash and Jeroboam there is a restoration of the border of Israel
according to the word of the LORD, the God of Israel, which he spake by the hand of his servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet, which was of Gath-hepher. For the LORD saw the affliction of Israel, that it was very bitter: for there was none shut up nor left at large, neither was there any helper for Israel. And the LORD said not that he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven: but he saved them by the hand of Jeroboam.
But when we reach the fourth descendant of Jehu, and his usurping successors, the Assyrian foe appears that is to make an end to the history of the northern kingdom; and the narrative grows into a general review and denunciation of the sins of Israel : their secret service in the cities, and Asherim on every hill; their hardening of the neck against the prophets and seers sent to warn them.
And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified unto them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the nations that were round about them, concerning whom the LORD had charged them that they should not do like them. And they forsook all the commandments of the LORD their God, and made them molten images, even two calves, and made an Asherah, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served Baal. And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire, and used divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger. Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight: there was none left but the tribe of
Judah only. The book ends with a brief description of the carrying away of northern Israel into captivity at Babylon; and in a tone of scorn tells of the hybrid people left to fill their place in Samaria: a people who “feared the LORD and served their own gods.” The tenth book is simple and straightforward in its his